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Daavettila Chooses Carolina Blue

Her homework complete, blue chip Sara Daavettila embarked on a road trip to explore several schools she was interested in attending. The journey proved worthwhile when the Williamston, Michigan, high school junior stepped onto North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus, sensing immediately it was the place for her.

Blue chip junior Sara Daavettila has chosen UNC
© ZooTennis
"I had a list of top schools, a checklist of what I wanted in a school," says Daavettila, who also made unofficial visits to Michigan, Ohio State, Wake Forest and Tennessee. "North Carolina was the only school that checked off everything."

One of North Carolina's advantages was its weather.

"I knew I wanted to go somewhere warm and I knew the South was where the best tennis was outside of Michigan and Ohio State, where I looked," Daavettila says. "But I kind of wanted a change, to be out of the Big Ten, for a few years. After I went to North Carolina, I kind of just stopped, because I said, 'that's where I want to be'. I just knew it."

Schools with even better weather also expressed interest in the top-ranked player in the Great Lakes Region, who has been in the Top 5 nationally in the Class of 2016 for the past three years.

"I got offers from Stanford, UCLA, but I knew I didn't want to go that far," says Daavettila, who has lived in the community outside Lansing for more than a decade. "I'm from a family of six, so it would be a struggle for my family to get out and come watch me play. So it was a matter of distance, how far I wanted to be, where I'd get the best tennis, academics, and the facility, the coach. I loved everything. And the colors. Blue and white, you can't go wrong."

With five younger siblings, Daavettila served as the tennis trailblazer in her family, although her mother Breita, who played for Western Michigan University from 1989-91, had her own experience and skills to draw on.

"She played on the tour for a while, was really good, but she started later when she was 12 or 13 years old. But she grew up loving it," says Daavettila, who began playing at age 3.

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Page updated on Sunday, October 06, 2019
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